Jump to content


Photo

Mike Eyerly - 2


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Milan Fistonic

Milan Fistonic
  • Member

  • 1,762 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 18 October 2003 - 08:06

Paul Newby asked in a now closed thread about Mike Eyerly.

This is from an article about Fred Opert that appeared in Motoring News in 1976.

That year [1970] we had a five-car team in Formula B with Mike Eyerly, Alan Later, myself, Evan Noyes and Nick Craw. There were 14 races that year and Mike Eyerly and Alan Later won 12 of them. Eyerly had nine firsts that year. He was probably one of the best talents that ever came out of American racing, but his sponsor took him out to the Tasman and they lost a lot of money and he never got a good sponsor again. I would say Eyerly was as good as any American driver I've ever seen - including Mark Donohue, or anyone.

Advertisement

#2 Allen Brown

Allen Brown
  • Member

  • 4,863 posts
  • Joined: December 00

Posted 18 October 2003 - 08:40

Milan

I got this last week from Rick Butz:

In 1970, Mike Eyerly campaigned a car for Bonphil Racing in the Formula B segment of the L&M series. I was his mechanic. At the Watkins Glen Grand Prix that fall, Phil Cole (of Bonphil Racing) struck a deal with John Surtees to run a TS8 for Mike in the 71 Tsaman Series. In November 1970, Phil, Mike and I were guests of the Surtees for a few days and I remained in England until November 13, helping to finish out the first TS8 at the factory. We subsequently tested at Brands Hatch (where Mike was substantially below the then existing outright track record) and Sir John was extremely pleased. After returning to the States, I parted ways with Bonphil Racing (they were already experiencing financial difficulties) and did not accompany the team to Tasman. I do not know what happened to the chassis, but Mike confirmed to me that all the parts and team equipment were in fact seized by Customs.

I have often felt that Mike might have had a different experience "down under" had I gone. After one of the races (I don't remember if it was the write-off at Warick or not) Sir John was quoted in Competition Press and Autoweek here in the States as noting that "...his factory trained mechanic was no longer with the team and that might have some bearing." In fact, Mike returned home discouraged with the whole episode, burdened by significant debt for personal expenses that were to have been covered but weren't, and raced only occasionally in the next few years. We remained close freinds until I moved away from Oregon in 1983. Mike died of an inoperable brain tumor, while still living in Salem, Oregon. I believe it was in 1998 or 99.

That answers quite a few of our questions.

Allen

#3 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 18 October 2003 - 09:45

Originally posted by Milan Fistonic
(...) Alan Later (...)

One small point: shouldn't that read Allan Lader???


__________________
Michael Ferner

Es genügt nicht, keine Gedanken zu haben. Man muß auch unfähig sein, sie auszudrücken. -- Karl Kraus

#4 Milan Fistonic

Milan Fistonic
  • Member

  • 1,762 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 18 October 2003 - 10:33

Originally posted by fines

One small point: shouldn't that read Allan Lader???


__________________
Michael Ferner

Es genügt nicht, keine Gedanken zu haben. Man muß auch unfähig sein, sie auszudrücken. -- Karl Kraus



I'll take your word for that - but that's the way it was spelled in the article.

#5 Magee

Magee
  • Member

  • 379 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 18 October 2003 - 18:27

Mike Eyerly got started and was very active in the Pacific Northwest in the early 60s. The International Conference of Sports Car Clubs was a sanctioning body for British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Here's a news piece from a race at Westwood in 1962.

"Rain Doesn't Cool Drivers
By Mike Hunter The Vancouver Sun, Monday, June 4, 1962

Bob McLean, Bill Stephens, and the weatherman reigned over a record number of entries and the season's smallest crowd Sunday at Westwood Circuit.
McLean and Stephens, two relative newcomers in the winner's circle, each picked up two wins in the eight-race card at the Port Coquitlam circuit.
The weatherman provided some unseasonal thunderstorms during the first three races, and the crowd at less than 3,000 huddled under blankets and umbrellas to watch a record 133 cars slither around the hilly course.

* * *

The Conference races, in which drivers are fighting for valuable points leading to class championships, usually draw crowds of more than 7,000.
Sunday, the people who stayed home missed some of this year's best driving, especially by McLean and Stephens.
McLean who was driving he sleek new Cooper junior for only the second time in competition came up with impressive wins in the all-modified and formula libre (all comers) races.

* * *

He turned in the best average speed (75.8) and the fastest lap time (78.8) of the day.
Stephens, whose claim to fame was a victory in the Westwood endurance race two years ago, jockeyed his gold-colored Porsche in upset victories in the F production and junior Le Mans events.
Stephens outlasted stalwart Mike Eyerly of Everett and Terry Nilsson of Burnaby, the F class leaders in the conference with two beautifully-driven races.
Seattle's Jack Murray, driving in the wettest race of the day, defeated a handful of bigger Corvettes and Jaguars to win the ABCD production event in the C-class Morgan.

* * *

Gerard Fortier of New Westminster took the C production event in an MGA and Paul Jaremko of Spokane won the H and I production race.
Portland's Bob Fletcher eased to victory in the E production race in his new TR-4, ahead of Dean Burkley of Portland and Chuck McKaig of Vancouver who battled it out for second.
Racing resumes at Westwood June 21.

#6 Jimmy Piget

Jimmy Piget
  • Member

  • 530 posts
  • Joined: April 02

Posted 20 October 2003 - 09:19

I noticed that Mike Eyerley was formula B champion in 1968 (Lotus), 1969 (Brabham) & 1970 (Chevron).
Who knows which wins he achieved in 1968 to get this title ?

#7 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 20 October 2003 - 09:36

I'm at work, so don't have my records to hand
Am fairly sure however that Eyerly won only two FB championships

#8 Allen Brown

Allen Brown
  • Member

  • 4,863 posts
  • Joined: December 00

Posted 20 October 2003 - 10:06

The 1968 FB championship was combined with FA, as it had been in 1967. I don't remember seeing a FB-class winner declared.

All the 1968 results are in the F5000 section of my site if someone wants to try to figure it out.

Allen

#9 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 20 October 2003 - 18:29

Update:
As Allen says, the FB cars ran with the FAs in 1967 and 1968, and no separate FB champion seems to have been declared. Eyerly appeared with a McLaren M4A in the last 1968 FA race, at Laguna Seca, and was first in the FB class.
Separate races were held for FB cars at 1969 FA meetings, and Eyerly in a Brabham (unsure about the model) was champion. He retained his title in 1970 at the wheel of a Chevron B19B

#10 Paul Newby

Paul Newby
  • Member

  • 450 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 22 October 2003 - 13:21

Allen

Its great that we have found out what happened to Mike Eyerly, but also sad to know that he is no longer with us and also the circumstances in which he left the sport. :cry:

I was curious about Eyerly for two reasons. Firstly I recall Fred Opert being quoted in the Chevron book (I think) that he rated Eyerly as the best driver he ever ran in his team. Considering this includes the likes of Keke Rosberg, this is quite a rap. Secondly there is a photo of him in Sports Car World March 1971 lined up on the grid at one of the New Zealand Tasman races. It says he is the youngest driver in the series at 20 years of age, which I believe is incorrect - I think he was 28?

Anyway there is some more background on the doomed '71 Tasman venture in a SCW article in October 1974 on an American driver called Peter Lissiuk competing in our national FF series (I know it sounds improbable) on the proverbial shoestring and showing up more fancied opposition. Now Lissiuk competed in his trusty Titan Mk6A during the supports for the 73 Tasman. In '72 he "wrenched" for Evan Noyes and in '71 on his first trip to the Antipodes he crewed for Eyerly.

Lissiuk had worked for Surtees in England until his visa ran out and hooked up with him again for the '70 US F5000 series, becoming an official works mechanic. SCW takes up the story and I quote:

"David Hobbs was driving for Surtees at the time and slotted Peter into a mechanic's job with Bonphil Racing as the F5000 series ended. And it was with Bonphil and driver Mike Eyerly that Peter Lissiuk first came to New Zealand and Australia.

"DId the Tasman have a good reputation in the US?

"'No,' says Peter, 'I didn't come for the racing, I just came for the trip!' The trip that turned into a nightmare.

"'We had problems from the start - we arrived too late, the car (a Surtees TS8) had never been run, and we had old engines ... The whole team was the most disorganised I've ever seen - and they didn't have any money either, they were flat broke.

"'Bills were left unpaid all over the place. There were disputes within the team and my job as a mechanic was reduced to one as a gopher.

"'By the time we hit Australia I was so disillusioned I never went to the track. At Warwick Farm I watched Eyerly crash on TV and flew home the next day."'

It certainly appears to be "wrong time, wrong place" for Mike Eyerly. When the Surtees was running well in NZ, Eyerly acquitted himself well (4th place at the NZ GP in Pukekohe) but reliability was an issue, along with everything else and then once in Australia he wrote the Surtees off in practice at Warwick Farm. Game over.

Things may well have been a lot different if Mike Eyerly gave the 1971 Tasman a miss! :(

Also does anyone know what happened to Peter Lissiuk? He never "made it" in Australia! :)

#11 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 22 October 2003 - 15:23

IIRC, Lissiuk (or Lissuik?) raced the Titan (or another) in NZ for 2 or 3 seasons - can't remember which side of '73 that would have been
I have a vague recollection that I came across his name in the US a couple of years after that
I have to add though that I tend to mix him up in my mind with Carl Liebich, another American who did one or two FF seasons in NZ. Liebich certainly raced F/Atlantic in the US in the later 1970s

#12 Paul Newby

Paul Newby
  • Member

  • 450 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 24 October 2003 - 10:15

Well, according to the photo of the gentleman in his race suit with embroidered name, it is Peter Lissiuk. :)

According to the article Lissiuk was only 22, and not without talent, but not much in the way of a budget either - as usual. Maybe he returned to the US and worked in the motorsport industry there. Maybe Allen knows?